Bonus point win for Ireland over Australia

30 June 2023

Bonus point win for Ireland over Australia

The Ireland Under-20s put the squeeze on Australia in the second half to earn an excellent 30-10 bonus point win in a rain-hit Paarl.


Thursday, June 29 -

AUSTRALIA UNDER-20s 10 IRELAND UNDER-20s 30, Paarl Gymnasium, Paarl
Scorers: Australia: Try: Henry O'Donnell; Con: Jack Bowen; Pen: Jack Bowen
Ireland: Tries: James Nicholson, Brian Gleeson, Gus McCarthy, Diarmuid Mangan; Cons: Sam Prendergast, Jack Oliver; Pens: Sam Prendergast 2
HT: Australia 10 Ireland 11

The Irish pack seized control after half-time, leading to tries from Mastercard player-of-the-match Brian Gleeson and captain Gus McCarthy, before replacement Diarmuid Mangan snatched a crucial last-minute score.

Australia had led 10-3 thanks to a terrific long-range try finished off by Henry O'Donnell, but Sam Prendergast set up James Nicholson to respond in the left corner before kicking a penalty just before the break.

As conditions worsened, the Junior Wallabies remained one point behind with Tim Ryan's knock-on ruining a promising back-line move. The injury-enforced loss of their influential tighthead Massimo De Lutiis was a big blow.

Ireland's scrum began to make inroads, winning some crucial penalties and Prendergast's boot brought play deep inside the Australian 22. Gleeson and McCarthy both drove over from close range in the 53rd and 62nd minutes.

Suddenly the margin was out to 13 points and Ireland, having drawn their opening game with England, battered away in search of the bonus point. Their persistence paid off when Mangan grounded the ball following a maul and a tap penalty.

The result leaves Ireland second in Pool B, level on eight points with new leaders England who boosted their points difference significantly with a 53-7 defeat of Fiji. Richie Murphy's youngsters take on the Fijians at the same venue next Tuesday (kick-off 1.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time).

Their 20-point victory was tempered somewhat by Ruadhan Quinn's head injury late on, and replacement Rory Telferended the game in the sin bin following a high tackle.

Speaking afterwards, Ireland skipper McCarthy said: "We're absolutely delighted, that last-minute try for the bonus point really shows the character of the group. We were up there in their 22 a few times and things didn't go well, but we kept fighting.

"That shows what our squad is about, we never give up and keep fighting. So proud of the boys there finishing it off.

"The Australian scrum was highlighted to us as a super scrum, but we really back ourselves with a super scrum as well and we really went at them. It paid off.

"We've a great scrum coach (Aaron Dundon) and he sat us down and we did a lot of analysis. A lot of hard work. Well done to the props and second rows putting all their weight behind us. Delighted with it.

"It really feels like an Irish winter here. These conditions probably suited us more than the Australians. But, certainly there's a lot of aspects of the game we need to fix up on.

"Our discipline maybe wasn't good enough in the first half and handling issues. But like I said at the start, we fought and stayed in it, and that really just highlights this squad. We never give up."

Murphy's side had to absorb the early pressure, with Nicholson denying Ryan a try inside the opening two minutes and then Andrew Osborne intercepted a Jack Bowen pass to dash 70 metres downfield.

Prendergast punished an Australian offside with a penalty goal from in front of the posts, and the best of the Irish defence was seen when Charlie Irvine ripped the ball away in a tackle and Gleeson followed up with a well-timed poach.

While a scrum lost against the head was a concern, Irvine's determined maul defence soon won the ball back. The Junior Wallabies had over 70% of the possession and territory coming towards the end of the opening quarter.

Just when Gleeson and the Irish backs were beginning to get over the gain-line, Australia countered superbly well from their own 22. David Vaihu jinked inside a couple of defenders, linking with Teddy Wilson who sent the supporting O'Donnell over to the left of the posts.

Bowen converted the 24th-minute try and quickly added a penalty after Prendergast had kicked out on the full. Trailing 10-3, Ireland got back on track with a big aerial bomb from Fintan Gunne, which Prendergast and Gus McCarthy followed up to force a penalty.

Paddy McCarthy almost piled over from a fantastic 15-metre carry, before Prendergast's lofted pass exposed Australia on the short side and gave Nicholson a simple finish from two metres out.

The winger's 30th-minute effort went unconverted, but a Paddy McCarthy turnover and a couple of midfield charges from Hugh Gavin gave Ireland further encouragement. Prendergast delivered his second penalty for an 11-10 interval lead.

Although the Irish maul had two solid rumbles early in the second period, Australia were first to threaten. They put the ball through the hands at pace until Ryan knocked on a pass with the try-line coming into view.

Lifted by two big scrum penalties, the Ireland pack were rewarded for their direct play when number 8 Gleeson, aided by debutant prop Ronan Foxe, powered over the whitewash. Prendergast's well-struck conversion made it 18-10.

Australia were let down by an unreliable lineout when Max Craig was pinged for a crooked throw and his opposite number McCarthy stole one at the rear. Another scrum penalty helped Ireland to begin the final quarter with a bang.

Prendergast expertly arrowed his kick to touch, setting up a close-in lineout. Hooker McCarthy sprung through from the maul and got the grounding under pressure from two defenders. The lead was out to 13 points.

Two lost lineouts slowed up Ireland's momentum as they pressed for the bonus point. They continued to dominate territory, Gleeson barging up close from a scrum before Paddy McCarthy was held up underneath the posts.

Telfer saw yellow for going too high on Darby Lancaster, but despite Quinn's withdrawal following a similar incident, Ireland still managed to finish the game with maximum points.

Fiachna Barrett took a penalty quickly and drove forcefully before an outstretched Mangan managed to find the try-line, supported by Danny Sheahan and the tireless Conor O'Tighearnaigh. Jack Oliver, another of the replacements, neatly slotted over the conversion from the right.

AUSTRALIA U-20: Mason Gordon (Melbourne Rebels/Wests Bulldogs); Tim Ryan (QLD Reds/Brothers Rugby Club), Henry O'Donnell (NSW Waratahs/Northern Suburbs), David Vaihu (Melbourne Rebels/Wests Bulldogs), Darby Lancaster (Melbourne Rebels/Eastern Suburbs); Jack Bowen (NSW Waratahs/Eastern Suburbs), Teddy Wilson (NSW Waratahs/Eastern Suburbs) (capt); Jack Barrett (NSW Waratahs/Randwick), Max Craig (QLD Reds/Easts Tigers), Massimo De Lutiis (ACT Brumbies/Western District Lions), Jhy Legg (Western Force/Wests Scarborough), Daniel Maiava-Tapusoa (Melbourne Rebels/Wests Bulldogs), Lachlan Hooper (ACT Brumbies/Vikings Rugby), Ned Slack-Smith (Western Force/Palmyra Rugby Union Club), John Bryant (QLD Reds/Souths Magpies).

Replacements used: Nick Bloomfield (QLD Reds/Easts Tigers) for De Lutiis (37 mins), Taj Annan (QLD Reds/Souths Magpies) for O'Donnell (57), Harrison Usher (QLD Reds/Bond University) for Barrett, Liam Bowron (ACT Brumbies/Canberra Royals) for Craig (both 64), Leafi Heka Talataina (Melbourne Rebels/Endeavour Hills) for Bryant (65), Toby Macpherson (ACT Brumbies/Uni-Norths Owls) for Legg (72), Harry McLaughlin-Phillips (QLD Reds/Souths Magpies) for Gordon (74), Klayton Thorn (ACT Brumbies/Gungahlin Eagles) for Lancaster, Bryant for Slack-Smith (both 78).

IRELAND U-20: Henry McErlean (Terenure College RFC/Leinster); Andrew Osborne (Naas RFC/Leinster), Hugh Gavin (Galwegians RFC/Connacht), John Devine (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht), James Nicholson (UCD RFC/Leinster); Sam Prendergast (Lansdowne FC/Leinster), Fintan Gunne (Terenure College RFC/Leinster); Paddy McCarthy (Dublin University FC/Leinster), Gus McCarthy (UCD RFC/Leinster) (capt), Ronan Foxe (Old Belvedere RFC/Leinster), Charlie Irvine (Queen's University Belfast RFC/Ulster), Conor O'Tighearnaigh (UCD RFC/Leinster), James McNabney (Ballymena RFC/Ulster), Ruadhan Quinn (Old Crescent RFC/Munster), Brian Gleeson (Garryowen FC/Munster).

Replacements used: Fiachna Barrett (Galway Corinthians RFC/Connacht) for Foxe (57 mins), Diarmuid Mangan (UCD RFC/Leinster) for McNabney (59), Evan O'Connell (UL Bohemians RFC/Munster) for Irvine (67), Rory Telfer (Queen's University Belfast RFC/Ulster) for Osborne (71), Jack Oliver (Garryowen FC/Munster) for Gunne, Danny Sheahan (UCC RFC/Munster) for G McCarthy (both 72), Harry West (Buccaneers RFC/Connacht) for Prendergast (75), Irvine for Quinn, George Morris (Lansdowne FC/Leinster) for P McCarthy (both 78).